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More from the Way Back Machine : U.S.A. first inhab­i­tants may have arrived more than 40,000 years ago Sat­ur­day, 12 May 2007

Olmec HeadPeo­ple walked upon the face of the land known as the United States long before it was a coun­try. Some arche­ol­o­gists esti­mate that the first inhab­i­tants arrived more than 40,000 years ago, with the The first signs of com­plex soci­ety in Mesoamer­ica at 15,000 years, (Olmec civ­i­liza­tion ) before the present day. Many Amer­i­can chil­dren are taught about Christo­pher Colum­bus dis­cov­er­ing Amer­ica and the First Thanks­giv­ing at Jamestown. Yet, this is not the cor­rect his­tory. And so the true his­tory now unfolds.

The Indi­ans that inhab­ited the lands of the Amer­i­cas learned of this great land by expe­ri­ence. They were eclec­tic biol­o­gists and sci­en­tists in their own right. They knew of the waters, the trees, and the var­i­ous ani­mals. They tilled the earth, grew food, and walked the paths through this great land. It was their home­land. They were the first peo­ple to inhabit this land . Their his­tory is one of pride, sacred­ness, and knowl­edge of the land. Learn­ing this his­tory requires a look into their past, their tri­als, and the story of the days when oth­ers came to their land and began to change the face of their world for­ever. How­ever, some of their tra­di­tional cul­tural val­ues, ethics, and sacred beliefs exist to this day.

This unit is an attempt to help chil­dren under­stand the first peo­ple of this land and develop an even greater appre­ci­a­tion for their diver­sity, cul­ture, and the gen­er­a­tions whose hands helped forge this land and were piv­otal in the build­ing of this nation. Some gen­eral infor­ma­tion about Amer­i­can Indi­ans:

Today there are many terms that describe the peo­ple who first inhab­ited this land . There is con­flict about what to call these peo­ple. Part of the prob­lem is that they are not one peo­ple, but many. Tra­di­tional names trans­lated from their native lan­guages gen­er­ally mean “the Peo­ple.” Yet, they are called Native Amer­i­cans, Amer­i­can Indi­ans, First Peo­ple, abo­rig­i­nal and Indige­nous Peo­ple, and by a very gen­eral term “Indian.” The word “Indian” is wrongly used, in its appli­ca­tion as a term, which col­lec­tively des­ig­nates tribal groups as “one peo­ple.” Christo­pher Colum­bus’ erro­neous geog­ra­phy and impres­sion that he had landed among the islands off Asia le him to call the peo­ples he met “los Indios.” His casual use of the term “Indios” in his let­ters intro­duced the New World to Euro­pean pop­u­la­tions; thus, sim­i­lar words in other Euro­pean lan­guages evolved, such as the French “Indien,” the Ger­man “Indi­aner,” the Eng­lish “Indian.” Sub­se­quent usage of the term “Indian” for the New World’s inhab­i­tants evoked descrip­tive words as “sav­ages,” “infi­dels,” and “hea­thens.” How­ever, Euro­peans had lim­ited con­tact with groups of peo­ple with such diverse cul­tures and lan­guages.

Ini­tial estab­lish­ment of the imagery of the “Indian,” like the word itself, came from the pens of Colum­bus and Amerigo Vespucci. Such imagery and stereo­types have pre­vailed to the present through inac­cu­rate writ­ten accounts and Hol­ly­wood movies. Each Indian tribe has its own lan­guage, which is dif­fer­ent from those of other tribes; its own his­tory and ori­gins; its own cus­toms (social and spir­i­tual); its own tra­di­tional dances; its own styles of cloth­ing; its own foods; its own val­ues; its own cul­ture; its own spir­i­tual beliefs and prac­tices; its own life styles; and its own tribal gov­ern­ments. Most tribes also have an extended fam­ily sys­tem.
Indian tribes are not one peo­ple, although many tribal philoso­phies and con­cepts are sim­i­lar— e.g., nearly every tribe’s beliefs have ref­er­ence to a Supreme Being; refer to the earth as “Mother Earth” and sky as “Father Sky”; have a belief that all things in cre­ation must have bal­ance and har­mony; and have respect for all ani­mals, sea life, and birds, and for all things.

There were 560 fed­er­ally rec­og­nized Indian tribes and bands, as of Jan­u­ary 2000, in the forty-​eight main­land United States of Amer­ica. Alaska has the Aleuts, Eski­mos, and Atha­pas­can tribal groups that num­ber 229. But there are per­haps 300 more Native Enti­ties in Alaska which, while eli­gi­ble to receive ser­vices, are not fed­er­ally rec­og­nized as tribes/​nations.

Indian tribal groups also exist in Canada, Mex­ico, Cen­tral Amer­ica, and South Amer­ica. Tribes of the Caribbean were mostly destroyed by dis­eases that the Euro­peans brought, and the remain­ing Caribbean tribal peo­ples inter­mar­ried with the Africans, Span­ish, Por­tuguese, Dutch, and French.
There are 378 treaties which the U.S. gov­ern­ment entered into with Indian tribes, the first being the treaty with the Delawares (Sep­tem­ber 17, 1778) and last the agree­ment with the Colum­bia and Colville (July 7, 1883).

There are 292 reser­va­tions, rancherias, and pueb­los. These land areas are held in trust under the United States Depart­ment of Inte­rior.

Today there are many new find­ings about the Indi­ans. Sci­ence is link­ing peo­ples and their migra­tions as far away as Africa. These links to the past open up explo­rations of where the native peo­ples really came from. Do the grass­lands of the Yucatan hold secrets? What about this con­nec­tions with the peo­ple of Africa? We are now in the process of inter­weav­ing cul­tures, peo­ple, and evi­dence that in the near future we will pub­lish these connections.

For­got­ten Post

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